This week in the Hidden Gems of London series is a very special, unique gem indeed and it resides in the quirky yet soulful individualistic town of Camden.
Camden has long been a haven for the unusual, the underground, the individual and anyone who rejects mainstream society. Fashion, art and music thrive here with clothes and food stalls littered about the bustling market place. Both Londoners and tourists alike never fail to be fascinated by this mesmerising town, which has been the home of legends such as Charles Dickens and Amy Winehouse. Artists flock here in their droves and it is one of the rare areas of the city where creativity reins supreme above all else.
This is made all the more apparent by the subject of this article. Across 27,000 square feet in The Stables Market is the largest South African restaurant in London: Shaka Zulu opened in 2010 with a special blessing from the Zulu king himself, HRH Goodwill Zwelithini, Shaka Zulu is a bar, restaurant and club all rolled into one.
Apart from the wealth of dynamic entertainment provided, what sets it apart from other restaurants is the truly stunning interior. The restaurant comprises of dim lighting with stationary Zulu warriors on all sides; the interior is reminiscent of something out of Indiana Jones. The interior is almost ethereal in its display as if you have stepped into the palace of the Zulu king himself, for there is a distinct aura of royalty about the place.
Going deeper in, an enormous statue of a tiger looms over you, which is quite breathtaking to behold. The restaurant is almost like a theatre; sitting down and viewing the scenery makes one feel as though they have stepped onto the set of a film.
The menu is as exciting as the view. With a variety of menus to choose from (A La Carte, Shield Menu and Young Warriors Menu to name a few) there is something for everybody. Shaka Zulu is also home to some truly exotic meats, in line with true South African cuisine.
There’s ostrich, springbok, kudu and zebra for the more adventurous eater, not to mention crocodile and wild boar. A delicious selection of fish is available such as seabream, lobster and salmon, and an array of side dishes such as cinnamon butternut and creamy spinach to compliment the meals.
There is entertainment to be had in the restaurant. Be prepared as you bite into your springbok for the sudden beating of drums behind you and African warriors dressed in traditional zulu garb dancing their way throughout the premises. The fire breathing is quite spectacular to behold and it is not uncommon for people to abandon their meals and join in the festivities, dancing in tribal fashion alongside them.
For those not too interested in filling their bellies, there is an elegant, but similarly dazzling bar, with a range of cocktails to taste, offering stunning views and a relaxed atmosphere; and on weekends, their club is the talk of the town, with people coming from all over to enjoy the wild and free nights the club has to offer.
Shaka Zulu is one of a kind. If you are travelling to London, or even if you are in London and haven’t been, it is worth trying out this dazzling experience at least once!